“We’ve paid attention. We didn’t settle for anything…” - The Menzingers talk new album Hello Exile
Growth for Pennsylvania punks The Menzingers has been slow and steady. It took them four records to make it out of tiny clubs and support tours, but now they’re firmly in the ascendancy.
Make of that is down to their steady and impressive work ethic, six records in 12 years and a gruelling world tour to accompany each one.
Their latest, Hello Exile, arrives this week, and we spoke to frontman Tom May about how they made it...
When did you start putting the songs together for this album? Did you start writing on tour for After The Party?
“We always try to write on tour and there were a couple of songs that got started in hotel rooms. But we really didn’t start in earnest until we got home. We buckled down last December, we were back home in Philadelphia and we went at it every single day.”
Were there things you wanted to do differently from what you did on After The Party?
“A couple of things. We wanted to spend more time on the dynamics. We’ve been going so hard and so heavy for years and we wanted to let our songs breathe. We wanted to write songs that could be arranged in completely different ways. It still needed to sound like us. But we wanted more space this time.”
You’re back with Will Yip, who you’ve worked with a lot, did you ever consider anyone else?
“We didn’t even have a conversation about anyone else. He’s incredibly knowledgeable, both in terms of equipment and technical skills, but also on songwriting. He’s way beyond us in both senses. He brings so much to the table and he navigates our internal relationships so well. He gets performances out of us that I don’t think anybody else could.”
Was this a quick record to make?
“The writing was very condensed, but the recording was longer. It took us six weeks, which is long for us. We spent a lot of time on the guitars and drums. We’ve paid attention a lot more. We didn’t settle for anything, nothing was going to be fixed later, we wanted to get it right.”
What kind of record is this lyrically?
“I think the listener will get a lot from this record. It’s a bit more varied, there’s nostalgia in there, but weirdly more about the future too.”
When did you decide on Hello Exile for the title?
“When it was first pitched, I didn’t like it. I thought it was too similar to After The Party thematically and I thought we could do better. But as the record got fleshed out, it made more and more sense, and it became something to rally around and build a framework for the record around.”
How are your live plans firming up? Is 2020 already booked?
“The next two years to 18 months. We’re lucky, we keep getting more popular with each record, and it’s a bigger operation now. More people come along with us and the crowds get a little bigger. I feel every new record is the end of a level on a video game. You beat the boss and you move to the next level. We’ve just beaten a new boss and we’re ready to see where it goes.”
Six records though, a few of the old live favourites will have to go…
“It’s a sad thing, but we’ve been playing a lot of them for so long. We always balance old favourites with new ones, we know we’ve got fans who have been with us for a long time. We’re really excited to curate a new set. We don’t agree on which ones we’re going to play, but it’s always a lively discussion…”
The Menzingers’ new album Hello Exile is out now.